He grew up in the hot south Texas sun. Jeans and books were all he ever wanted for Christmas. And a Willy Mays autographed baseball. Summers found him digging post holes in the hard caleche and stringing barbed wire. The air felt like the inside of an oven. His only relief was the shade of a pickup truck. It was in that shade that he had his epiphany one scorching Texas summer day, dust in his lungs and sweat trickling into his eyes.
He would get a college degree so he could earn a living with his mind instead of his hands.
His Daddy went along with the idea, taking the risk all Daddies do--that their sons will return home once the dream loses its glow. But the dream shone brighter in the lights and excitement of the big city. Daddy would have to be satisfied that he came back for holidays and family events. One man's dream burned up in the kindling of another's.
When I met him, he was practicing law as a trial attorney in Houston. His hands were smooth, and his mind was brilliant. I think I fell in love with his mind first. His closet was filled with suits, and one pair of jeans he used for jogging in the humid Houston weather.
We got married, which made both of our parents happy, and started our journey through life together. We bought a house, I went back to finish college, and we had 2 children, first a boy, and then a girl 22 months later. Three or four times a year we would drive back down to south Texas to visit his family. Seven years into our life together, he had another epiphany.
He would go back to college for a PhD so he could earn his living by teaching instead of pleading cases.
We moved north, crossing first the Red River, and then the Mason Dixon Line on our way to New York. Our luggage bore the extra weight of a newfangled home computer. The next summer we had our third child. Our "little yankee."
We acclimated ourselves to snow and cold, and I typed the endless drafts and edits of his dissertation. During those seven years I had an epiphany.
I would live in the country and have the horse of my dreams.
He graduated and we moved southwesterly into Pennsylvania, to a little farm not too far from town and the college where he would teach.
One sticky, hot June day in western Pennsylvania he donned his old jeans, a worn dress shirt, and a pair of work gloves to gather hay from our field. The next week he spent with some hired hands digging post holes and stringing wire to fence in the new horse.
He had laid down his post hole digger in Texas only to take it up again in Pennsylvania.
It was then I knew he really loved me.
"Through the years as the fire starts to mellow
Burning lines through the book of our lives
Though the binding cracks, and the pages start to yellow
I'll be in love with you
I'll be in love with you" Dan Fogelberg, "Longer"